The Camera Obscura at Castelo São Jorge

By KRISTINA FAUST

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal

I cross an ocean,
hail a car, find my
room, buy milk in a
box and chicory
coffee by mistake,
then, against advice,
steal two hours of
daylit sleep. When I
wake I go out to
find the castelo.

I walk skyward at
Escher angles through
constricting alleys.
Laundry stretches like
ligaments between
rusted balconies.
Cats disdain from sills.
Women in widows’
black wobble past, and
bells ring for reasons
other than plain time.

Here are the first stones
laid by the Moors. Here
is where a knight threw
his body between
closing gates, and his
fellow crusaders
poured in over him.
These old dancing trees
are cork. This is a
view of a bridge, a
cannon. Here is the
restroom, the gift shop,
peacocks. I am not
alone, not alone,
never alone with
my phone. We moderns
don’t sacrifice a
thing for each other,
especially not
our precious bodies.

But when we stand in
the dark, hip against
hip, and watch the sun
squint its eye and dream
a city before
us, we warm to our
old insignificance.

Lisbon, Portugal

Kristina Faust is a native New Jerseyan living in Grand Rapids, MI. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in The Georgia Review, Blackbird, Washington Square Review, Harvard Review, and elsewhere. She received the 2018 Disquiet Literary Prize for poetry.

Photos by author.

The Camera Obscura at Castelo São Jorge

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